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 Gyuto Monks Tibetan Tantric Choir, Lura, Alfred Brendel, Sylvia Guillem
Gyuto Monks Tibetan Tantric Choir, songstress Lura, pianist Alfred Brendel, prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem (Photo credits)

Coming attractions for Spring 2007: From human rights to the human condition

–With the United States still firmly entrenched in Iraq, and its relationship with Iran heating up, the Middle East dominates the news and makes up a significant part of the campus's slate of events this semester. Foremost among them is an exhibit of Fernando Botero's chilling Abu Ghraib-inspired paintings; additional lectures and readings highlight the culture and history of the region.

Human-rights abuses are not confined to Abu Ghraib, and several talks and performances shine a light on the collateral damage caused by the "war on terrorism," as well as by other conflicts past and present. Other events widen the lens to examine the state of globalization and its effects on America both at home and abroad.

On the lighter side of human affairs, a rich array of campus lectures and discussions explore the basics of being human — how we think, what we eat, and where we live — while an inviting feast of arts and music celebrates human creativity and inspiration.

The following is a highly subjective shortlist, chosen with help from departmental managers across campus, of those events most likely to be of general interest. Details may change, and events will be added, so visit the Critic's Choice website daily to stay informed. (Please notify us of any corrections/updates.)

Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib painting #67, 2005.
Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib painting #67, Jan. 29-Mar. 23

Fernando Botero is among the best-known artists in Latin America and the world today, with a bold and distinctive style that transcends the boundaries of cultural specificity. A rare showing of the artist's provocative "Abu Ghraib" series, depicting the torture of prisoners at the infamous Iraqi prison, will be exhibited, Jan. 29-March 23, Room 190, Doe Library. Botero, who said he produced the deeply disturbing Abu Ghraib collection after reading a news account of the scandal, will attend the opening on Monday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m. Several related events are planned to accompany the Botero exhibit: A Conversation with the Artist, Monday, Jan. 29, 4 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House; Art and Violence: A Panel Discussion, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 4 p.m., Morrison Library, Doe Library; Torture, Human Rights, and Terrorism: A Panel Discussion, Wednesday, March 7, 4 p.m., Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall (School of Law). See the Center for Latin American Studies website for details.

For 'Extraordinary Rendition' and International Law, Laurel Fletcher, director of Boalt Hall's International Human Rights Law Clinic, will examine "extraordinary rendition," a tactic outside formal legal procedures by which U.S. authorities transfer suspects to the custody of third-party states. A short documentary film that tells the story of two such detainees will be shown: "Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the 'War on Terror.' " Tuesday, Jan. 30, 6 p.m., Free Speech Movement Café (Moffitt Library)

  Dunya Mikhail
Dunya Mikhail, Feb. 1

Iraqi native Dunya Mikhail immigrated to the United States in 1996 after being subjected to increasing harassment from Iraqi authorities over her poetry, which confronts war and exile with subversive depictions of suffering. Awarded the 2001 U.N. Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing, Mikhail presents her work at this semester's first Lunch Poems reading, Thursday, Feb. 1, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library, Doe Library. See the Lunch Poems website for information on the series.

Derek Gregory, University of British Columbia professor of geography, explores how the "war on terror" and, in particular, the use of air power in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has reduced the world to a series of targets in his lecture War Cultures: Military Imaginaries and Arab Cities, Thursday, Feb. 8, 5 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall. Other notable lectures sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies include A Question of Identity: Mosques in the Arab World (Thursday, Feb. 1, 5 p.m., 340 Stephens) and the The Problem of Being Modern in the Middle East (Thursday, May 3, 5 p.m., 340 Stephens).

There is an enduring tension between democracy's need for a free and open public sphere and democracy's need to protect dignity and ensure civility. Robert Post, Yale University professor of law, will discuss the European controversies concerning the publication of possibly blasphemous and Islamophobic Danish cartoons in his lecture Religion and Freedom of Speech, Tuesday, March 13, 7:30 p.m., Lipman Room, Barrows Hall. See the Townsend Center website for details.

Human rights and war

State of Place, Jack Picone, through May 4

Two events cast light on human rights abuses outside of the Middle East. Jack Picone's photographs in "State of Place" document the precarious lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced Burmese and ethnic minorities on the Thai/Burma border. They have fled persecution by Burma's brutal military government, whose soldiers have razed their crops and burned their villages to ground. Ongoing through May 4, North Gate Hall. Historian and human rights activist Dr. Thant Myint-U will discuss his new history of Burma, "The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma," which examines the legacy of imperialism, war and invasion for the Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 3 p.m. 6th Floor, 2223 Fulton.

Two plays explore the effects of war on family and community. Set in Ireland's County Donegal, just across the border from Northern Ireland, during the final years of World War II, Frank McGuinness's play Dolly West's Kitchen, directed by Christine Nicholson, follows a close-knit Irish family struggling to come to terms not only with war, but also with one another. Presented by the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, the play opens Friday, March 2, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse. See the department's website for other dates and times. Across the Bay, the American Conservatory Theatre has commissioned After the War, a play by Philip Kan Gotanda in which an unexpected grouping of characters struggle to revive their community after returning to San Francisco from the Japanese internment camps. In association with the ACT premiere of the play, the Townsend Center for the Humanities will hosts a panel discussion, Monday, April 9, 5 p.m., 220 Stephens Hall. See the center's website for details.

  Still from film "Black Gold"
Black Gold, Feb. 23

This year's Human Rights Watch International Film Festival includes films that expose the human cost of global commerce, investigate the consequences of war and its aftereffects in everyday life, and offer inspiring portraits of activism and resistance. George Scharffenberger, executive director of UC Berkeley's Blum Center for Developing Economies, will introduce "Black Gold," a documentary about the consequences of the global coffee trade (Friday, Feb. 23 at 8:50 p.m. PFA Theater ). See the full program, which runs February 23-25, at the Pacific Film Archive website.

UC Berkeley's Human Rights Center hosts Stopping Mass Atrocities: An International Conference on the Responsibility to Protect, Wednesday, March 14. Retired Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire will open the conference with "The Failure of Humanity in Preventing Genocides," Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House. A Canadian senator, humanitarian, and author who led the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, Dallaire will discuss the tragedy and its personal and professional aftermath. Free admission, tickets required. See the center's website for details.

In his Tanner Lectures on Human Values: Power, Reason, and Politics, Joshua Cohen, Stanford University professor of political science, philosophy and law, will argue that a global definition of human rights should be independent of any particular ethical or religious outlook; Tuesday-Wednesday, April 10-11, 4:10 p.m., Alumni House. Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan; Charles Larmore, Brown University; and Avishai Margalit, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, will discuss Cohen's lectures on Thursday, April 12, 4:10 p.m., Alumni House.

International and domestic affairs

John Micklethwait, the newly appointed editor in chief of The Economist, talks with Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, about the direction he is taking the influential news magazine, and about America's role in the world, in "The View from Abroad: Is America broken?" Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium. See the School of Journalism website for ticket information.

A group of events hosted by the Institute of European Studies examine the political landscape in the United States and Europe. The Globalization Comes Home Conference explores how globalization has become a force unto itself, coming back to challenge the political and legal institutions, economic landscape and cultural foundations of Western industrial democracies; Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 1-3, 223 Moses. This spring the French will elect a new president, and among the candidates is Ségolène Royal of the French Socialist Party — the first woman to represent a major French party in a presidential contest. Laurent Bouvet, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, will discuss The French Presidential Elections, Thursday, March 22, 12 p.m., 223 Moses. Karsten Voigt of the German Foreign Office, keynote speaker for the conference Religion in Politics and Society: Europe and the U.S., says Europeans are increasingly doubtful about the rise of faith-based politics in the United States, but he sees a comparable yet different increase in the political role of religious organizations in his own country; Thursday-Friday, April 12-13, Men’s Faculty Club and 223 Moses. See the Institute of European Studies website for details.

 Robert Reich
Robert Reich, Feb. 21

Robert Reich, former secretary of labor and now a UC Berkeley public policy professor, will speak on "The Four Narratives of American Public Life" and how they often distort our understanding of what's really going on. Robin Einhorn, professor of history, will provide commentary on the lecture; Wednesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m., 315 Wheeler Hall. See the Townsend Center website for details.

Middle-class families are working harder just to try to break even. Elizabeth Warren, professor of law at Harvard University, will explore this phenomenon in the Graduate School's Jefferson Memorial Lecture titled The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards, and a Shrinking Safety Net; Thursday, March 8, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House. A major concern for families is the rising cost of health care. Andy Grove, cofounder of Intel Corporation, will discuss the role of technology in solving the crisis in the U.S. health care system for the Edward E. Penhoet Annual Lecture on Biology, Behavior and Environment; Tuesday, April 10, 4 p.m., 22 Warren Hall.

Food for the soul

The Graduate School of Journalism's Knight Program is hosting "The Past, Present, and Future of Food" talk by John Mackey, cofounder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, followed by a conversation with Michael Pollan. Pollan is a UC Berkeley journalism professor and the author of the best-selling "Omnivore's Dilemma," which criticized Whole Foods' role in the industrialization of organic food. Watch the sparks fly at this much anticipated event, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., Wheeler Hall. The event will be webcast live; see the School of Journalism website for details and tickets.

Professor of mathematics at Cambridge University Stephen W. Hawking, widely considered to be the greatest scientific thinker since Newton and Einstein, will discuss theories on the origin of the universe in a sold-out talk aimed at the general public. He will explain how time can have a beginning, and summarize the progress made by cosmologists in an area that has traditionally belonged to theologists and philosophers; Tuesday, March 13, 7:30 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Join the e-mail list on the Cal Performances website to be notified of last-minute ticket availability. Also check out Craigslist for ticket sightings.

What makes you happy? Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economics, argues that we've yet to come up with a really good scientific measure of well-being. He presents two Charles M. and Martha Hitchcock Lectures, "Explorations of the Mind — Intuition: The Marvels and the Flaws", Monday, Feb. 5, 4:10 p.m., and "Explorations of the Mind — Happiness: Living and Thinking About it." Tuesday, Feb. 6, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House.

 Buddha The Buddha Úâkyamuni is said to have asked, "How can anyone laugh who knows of old age, disease, and death?" The conference Does Humor Belong in Buddhism? will explore the role of humor in Buddhism, from early canonical theories of humor and the unexpectedly robust comedy of the rules for monks and nuns to the outrageous behavior of tantric gurus and Zen Masters; Friday-Saturday, Feb. 9-10, Alumni House. See the Institute of East Asian Studies website for details.

 Robert Pinksy
Robert Pinsky, Feb, 1 (left), Michael McKean, April 15 (right)

In the first program of a new "Humanities and the Public World" forum hosted by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, U.S. poet laureate and public ambassador for poetry Robert Pinsky will talk about the national Favorite Poem Project he initiated, Thursday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium. See the center's website for details.

Actor, comedian, composer and musician Michael McKean — celebrated for his memorable performances in TV's "Laverne & Shirley"; the films "This is Spinal Tap," "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind"; and Broadway's "Hairspray" and "The Pajama Game" — will discuss his experience growing up as an actor and his transitions from television to film. A few celebrity impersonations are a definite possibility; Sunday, April 15, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.

  Bruce Nauman: Infrared Outtakes: Neck Pull; 1968/2006.
Bruce Nauman: Infrared Outtakes: Neck Pull; 1968/2006. (Jack Fulton photo) through April 15

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive do not disappoint with their entertaining and thought-provoking lineup. Noted film critic David Thomson introduces a series of classic Hollywood movies, including "Some Like It Hot" (Feb. 1) and "Bonnie and Clyde" (Feb. 22), as part of "A Thousand Decisions in the Dark: A Film Series with David Thomson," on Thursdays through Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m. at the PFA Theater. See the Pacific Film Archive website for details. "A Rose Has No Teeth" is a major exhibition of early work by Bruce Nauman, one of the most influential artists working today. The first to focus on work from Nauman's years in the San Francisco Bay Area, the exhibition features the full range of his work from the 1960s, when he laid the foundation for all of his subsequent groundbreaking work in sculpture, performance, and film and video art. The exhibit runs through April 15, Berkeley Art Museum. Anne Wagner, UC Berkeley professor of art history, will lecture on "Nauman's Body of Sculpture," Thursday, Feb. 1, 7 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum. See the museum website for details.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. (Andrew Eccles photo), Feb. 28-Mar. 4,

Cal Performances offers a typically compelling collection of modern dance programs. Renowned for combining choreographic invention with a distinct theatrical vision, William Forsythe returns to Cal Performances with his new company. In this West Coast debut, the Forsythe Company presents "Three Atmospheric Studies," a stark look at the physicality of war, Thursday-Friday, Feb. 22-23, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Judith Jamison's acclaimed company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, returns once again with three programs featuring Ailey classics — including the timeless masterwork "Revelations" — plus the Bay Area company premiere of Twyla Tharp's breathtaking "The Golden Section" and a special 25th anniversary tribute to Ailey dancer Renee Robinson; Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 28-Mar. 4, Zellerbach Hall. New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts blends dance with theater, painting, Chinese opera and sculpture, Friday-Saturday, March 23-24, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Sylvie Guillem is perhaps the world's most celebrated ballerina — formerly Rudolf Nureyev's protégé, reigning star of the Paris Opera Ballet, and longtime principal guest artist at the Royal Ballet — while British-Asian choreographer and dancer Akram Khan is renowned for his groundbreaking work fusing Western contemporary dance with Indian classical Kathak. Together, they journey to places neither has gone before in a series of solos, duos and ruminations titled "Sacred Monsters," Saturday, May 5, 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. See the Cal Performances website for the full schedule of dance programs.

  Gilberto Gil and Salif Keita
Gilberto Gil, March 25 (top, Warner Brothers), Salif Keita, April 25 (Eye for Talent)

Music from around the world and close to home will lift your spirits. Dubbed "the future of classical music" by the New York press, Alarm Will Sound will perform a program of Conlon Nancarrow's work, including his complex player piano works, at Cal Performances, Sunday, March 11, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall. The king of modern Brazilian pop music, Gilberto Gil — who helped found tropicalia, the folk-rock Brazilian hybrid musical movement that followed bossa nova — comes to Cal Performances for one night only, Sunday, March 25, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. American guitarist Pat Metheny and classically trained pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio play a gig reprising their recent innovative jazz album "Metheny / Mehldau," Wednesday, March 28, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Lisbon native and songstress Lura brings a fresh perspective to the traditional music of her Cape Verdean ancestry, looking past the familiar mornas and coladeiras, Friday, April 20, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Salif Keita, the "golden voice of Africa" and a key founder of modern Afro-pop, blends the traditional griot music of his childhood with other West African influences as well as music from Spain, Portugal and Cuba; Wednesday, April 25, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. Visit the Cal Performances website for tickets.

Representing a rich Buddhist tradition founded in 15th-century Tibet, the monks of the Gyuto Tantric University have been chanting in their multi-tonal style since the university's founding in 1474. They joined the Dalai Lama in fleeing their homeland in 1959 and setting up a government-in-exile in northern India. A discussion about the musical traditions of the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the modern era featuring Benjamin Bogin (UC Berkeley), Kiela Diehl (Stanford University), and Jessie Wallner (Indiana University) will be held Wednesday, March 14, 4 p.m., Seaborg Room, Faculty Club. The panel discussion Understanding Tibetan Monastic Music in the 21st Century is organized in conjunction with the performance of the Gyuto Monks Tibetan Tantric Choir on Wednesday, March 14, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. For details see the Institute of East Asian Studies website and the Cal Performances website.

Pianist Alfred Brendel is recognized by audiences the world over for his legendary ability to communicate the emotional and intellectual depths of whatever music he performs. A supreme master of his art, his accomplishments as an interpreter of the great classical and romantic composers — Mozart, Schubert, and others — have earned him a place among the world's most revered musicians. The Townsend Center is pleased to present "Alfred Brendel in Conversation" moderated by Professor Anthony J. Cascardi, Friday, March 16, 5 p.m., Great Hall, Bancroft Hotel (2680 Bancroft Way), offering a unique opportunity for audiences to hear Brendel's reflections on music and culture prior to his campus performance on Sunday, March 18, 5 p.m., Zellerbach Hall. For details see the Townsend Center website and the Cal Performances website.

 Circus poster The Lawrence Hall of Science hosts a one-of-a-kind exhibit about circuses that highlights the mixture of physics, psychology, and panache that sustains this popular and evolving form of entertainment. The 5,500 square-foot Circus! Science Under the Big Top exhibit covers everything about the circus, from the high wire to juggling. Activities for kids range from walking the tight rope to trying on a clown costume. February 3–September 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. See Lawrence Hall of Science website for details.

More events of note


In From Academia to Action: A View of the Landscape from the Concrete Tower, Tim Duane, UC Berkeley professor of city & regional planning and landscape architecture, will outline examples of how he has turned his academic work into socially and environmentally meaningful action. Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1:10 p.m., 315A Wurster Hall.

 image from book "Little House on a Small Planet" Live in less space but have more room and enjoy it. Does that sound like a contradiction? Shay Salomon will inspire us to join the small house movement with a reading from her book Little House on a Small Planet, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1:10 p.m., 315A Wurster Hall.

Island of the Blessed/Island of the Damned: Austria and the Jews in Modern History, Steven Beller, independent scholar. Wednesday, Feb. 28, 12:30 p.m., 201 Moses.

Thomas Scanlon, Harvard University professor of natural religion, moral philosophy and civil polity, will offer an alternative to the usual ideas of blame as judgmental or punitive in the Howison Lecture: The Ethics of Blame. Wednesday, Feb. 21, 4:10 p.m., Alumni House.

Rosey Jencks, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission watershed and storm water planner, will show examples of how storm water management design can be both beautiful and functional in Storm Water Designs from North America and Europe. Wednesday, March 14, 1:10, 315A Wurster Hall.

From Thomas Jefferson to Forrest Gump: How the Mall in Washington Became the Nation's Most Venerated Civic Space, Michael Kammen, professor of american history and culture at Cornell University, delivers the Jefferson Memorial Lecture. Monday, March 19, 4:10 p.m., Lipman Room, Barrows Hall.

Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland professor of modern European history, will lecture on how German wartime media portrayed the Holocaust as a defensive act in The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust. Thursday, March 22, 4 p.m., 201 Moses Hall.

Shannah Anderson and Kathryn Gaffney explain how we can be protective of our remaining natural environment in urban settings with thoughtful planning, research and management in Case Studies in Urban Wildlife Planning. Wednesday, April 18, 1:10 p.m., 315A Wurster Hall.


 Ali Dagar image "Missing" and painted indian scroll
Ali Dagar, "Missing", through March 2 (top); painted scroll from from Rajasthan, Feb. 2-Dec. 21 (bottom)

East meets west in a multimedia exhibit by Iranian-American Ali Dagar, who draws from a culturally mixed archive of visual material in this collection of his recent work titled "Disappearing," through March 2, 220 Stephens Hall. See the Townsend Center website for details.

A 30-foot-long painted scroll depicting the epic of Pabuji is a highlight of the new exhibition From the Land of the Rajas: Creativity in Rajasthan at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 2-Dec. 21. Rajasthan, a desert state in northwestern India, is famed for its colorful and distinctive art styles. For centuries, its princely rulers (rajputs, literally "sons of kings") have encouraged a wide range of arts. The 150 objects on display include domestic crafts, wedding textiles, festival material, puppets and theatrical costumes, ritual masks, musical instruments, and paintings for traveling storytellers.



UC Jazz Ensembles Spring Show, Friday, April 13, 8 p.m., International House. See the Student Musical Activities website for more information and complete schedule.

The University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Milnes, will perform Mahler's Symphony No. 6 ("Tragic"), Friday-Saturday, March 2-3, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall. See the Music Department's website for complete schedule of concerts.

The University Chamber Chorus, directed by Marika Kuzma, will perform the Carmina Burana, a collection of over 1,000 poems and songs also known also as the Burana Codex, written in the early 13th century. Friday, April 20, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall.

Special events

Learn about current research in evolutionary biology, including behavior and defense, primate evolution, and coevolution and its impact on biodiversity, through Darwin Day at Cal, Saturday, Feb. 10. See the Museum of Paleontology's website for details.

The University of California women's gymnastics program will host the 2007 NCAA West Regional this April. Six teams and individuals will converge on Haas Pavilion on Saturday, April 14, at 6 p.m. For more information see CalBears.com.

  Cal Day 2007

Cal Day, Saturday, April 21. See the Cal Day website for program details after April 1.

Commencement Convocation 2007, Wednesday, May 9. See the commencement website for details.

Photo credits for images at top: Gyuto Monks Tibetan Tantric Choir (Imn), Lura (Deborah Metsch), Alfred Brendel (Isolde Ohlbaum), Sylvie Guillem (courtesy of Sylvie Guillem)